Iranian conservative MP Ali Motahari says he agrees with former president Mohammad Khatami that political prisoners should be freed.
Khabar on line quotes Motahari saying: “I, too, am of the opinion that many of the post-election political prisoners should be released.”
He added, however, that Khatami is not in a position to set conditions for their participation in the coming elections, adding that if reformists boycott the parliamentary elections, it will lead to their further isolation.
Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami told a group of reformists last December that Iran’s reformists will only participate in the parliamentary elections if political prisoners are released, the constitution is adhered to and the elections are open and transparent.
The conditions set out by Khatami raised the ire of many establishment conservative figures, such as Ahmad Jannati, the head of Iran’s Guardian Council, who claimed reformists are in no position to set out conditions and that the people have no regard for them and will not vote for them.
Motahari, however, told Khabar on line that: “The prisoners who have not committed destructive acts or engaged in armed rebellion against the regime should be released but those who persist in their old claims and are not repentant should not be released.”
He added that reformists should indeed participate actively in the coming elections, saying: “The Guardian Council has no cause to disqualify [reformists] other than MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.”
Mousavi and Karroubi are the two presidential candidates who challenged the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 election, alleging vote fraud. Their accusations led to widespread mass demonstrations, and the two were finally put under house arrest for rallying protesters on the streets. In addition, numerous senior reformists figures have been arrested and handed heavy prison sentences for their role in the protests.
Conservatives refer to the two opposition leaders as “leaders of a sedition” that aims to topple the regime. Former president Khatami, who has supported the vote-rigging accusations of Mousavi and Karroubi and called for their release, has sometimes been tainted with the same term.
Motahari said today: “Personally, I do not believe that reformists had been making seditious plans for months prior to the election and for this very reason I do not consider Mr. Khatami to be one of the sedition leaders.”
The conservative MP also criticized the house arrest of Mousavi and Karroubi, saying they should be properly charged and prosecuted in “a competent court.”
Motahari added that he will run in the coming elections only if the president is summoned to Parliament for questioning.
A motion to question Ahmadinejad on a number of administrative irregularities was initiated by Motahari and submitted to the Presiding Board of Parliament last month. Many of the 100 MPs that signed the motion have since withdrawn their support, following rumours that the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, is against the motion.
“If the president is not questioned by Parliament and Parliament is not allowed to take significant action, there will be no need for me to run in the elections;” Motahari told Khabar on line.
Iran’s parliamentary elections are set for next March. Following the controversy around the 2009 vote, the role of reformists in the elections has become a hot topic of debate in Iranian politics.